Inside Television with Alan Sepinwall
The show leaves NBC's schedule for a while after tonight, so let's get evil!
Okay, tonight's the night, "Community" fans. NBC is about to rerun the last episode of the show that's currently scheduled to air on the network. While we know the remaining 12 episodes are going to air sometime, somewhere(*), for the moment, "Community" disappears from our televisions.
Comedy about management consultants has strong leads but needs to work on its perspective
A few years back, Matthew Carnahan created a series that couldn't have seemed more timely. In FX's "Dirt," Courteney Cox played the editor of a celebrity tabloid, and the show came on just as gossip was beginning to drive most entertainment news (and news, period, in some cases). But "Dirt" never seemed to know what kind of show it wanted to be when it grew up, and Cox's character wavered between villainous and virtuous.
"House of Lies," Carnahan's new Showtime dramedy (it premieres Sunday night at 10), also feels incredibly timely. In this age of Occupy Wall Street, it's a show ostensibly lampooning the 1%, as we follow a team of management consultants who travel around the country trying to fix - or, at least, hustle fees out of - one large, inhumane corporation after another.
And while it's more entertaining than "Dirt" - thanks primarily to the chemistry of a cast headed by Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell - it suffers from the same wobbly sense of tone and direction. It's in the right place and the right time, but it's not necessarily the right show.
Belated sequel to Cruise/Grisham legal thriller falls flat
Watching the two-hour pilot episode of NBC's "The Firm" (Sunday at 9 p.m.), my mind was filled with many questions, such as:
Class barriers start to come down, but the storytelling gets soapier
It happens all the time: someone will ask me to suggest a new show to watch, and I'll name a title and start describing it, and about 10 seconds in, the other person's face will curl up and they'll say, "Oh, I'm sure it's great, but I don't want to watch a show about high school football," or "I don't want to watch a show about a guy who cooks crystal meth," or "I don't want to watch a show with spaceships and robots and clones." And I'll shake my head and lament that they won't be able to see what I saw in "Friday Night Lights," "Breaking Bad" and "Battlestar Galactica."
But even I'm not immune to that line of thinking, as I discovered last year when PBS' "Masterpiece Classic" debuted "Downton Abbey," a drama about the masters and servants at a large English country estate in the years leading up to World War I. The social mores and problems of the landed gentry have never held any interest for me, and when faced with a crush of other material to watch with more appealing subject matter, I passed on "Downton" and moved on. Even rapturous reviews from most of my fellow critics wasn't enough to sway me, and I imagine they would have looked at me the same disappointment I feel at the people who didn't want to get to know Coach and Mrs. Coach.
Then on a whim one sleepless night a few months after the series debuted in America, I put on the first episode just to see what I was missing. And I kept watching all through the night and into the next day, eventually coming to three conclusions:
What did everybody think of Wednesday's sitcoms?
Last night was mostly devoted to packing for press tour, and the only TV show I even half-saw was "Happy Endings," where Max's outfit for the bet gave me a prolonged, loud laugh.
I'll have reviews of some upcoming shows posting throughout the day today, but if anybody wants to discuss last night's "Happy Endings," "Modern Family," "Suburgatory" or "The Middle," here is the place. Just do me a favor and mention the name of the show you're going to talk about before you start talking about it, for the benefit of people who might have seen some but not all just yet.
Dramedy finds better balance while still making great use of Emmy Rossum and family
In one episode of the new season of Showtime's "Shameless" (it returns Sunday night at 9), Emmy Rossum's Fiona Gallagher finds herself on the run from someone who wants to beat her up with a baseball bat, and winds up cowering under a table next to her despicable alcoholic father Frank (William H. Macy). As Fiona realizes that she's now in the same position Frank has been in so, so, so many times in the past, a giddy Frank declares, "I have waited for this day!" And as much as he wants to just seem smug about the daughter who has lectured him so often in the past about his own bad behavior, there's a sense of perverse pride here, too - that this is the first time in a long time Frank has truly been able to relate to his eldest child.
And that, boys and girls, is "Shameless" in a nutshell. It is messy. It is vulgar. It is crude and loud and low-class. And it takes great joy in being all of those things.
It is also, despite being an hour each week and featuring dramatic moments - many of them heart-wrenchingly good - funnier than pretty much all of the half-hour shows Showtime tries to pass off as comedies, and it's a pleasure to have it back.
The Television Critics Association winter press tour starts today
It's that time of year again, TV fans, when the a couple of hundred TV critics and reporters from the U.S. and Canada descend on a single Los Angeles area hotel for the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
The Bravermans take a long drive together in one of the series' best episodes
A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I give you some fuzzy dice and a switchblade...
What did everybody think of ABC's new cross-dressing comedy?
I posted my review of ABC's "Work It" yesterday, and Fienberg registered his own disgust this afternoon. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think of the gender-bending hijinks of the new ABC comedy? Is this more like "Some Like It Hot" or "He's My Girl"? Does Benjamin Koldyke strike you as a 21st century Tom Hanks? How about that nightclub set? And if you tuned in tonight, do you intend to ever watch it again?
Have at it.
The gang ushers in the new year in different ways in a solid episode
A review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I open the kimono...